Monday, February 21, 2011

Wood you?

(God, I'm sorry, I just had to.)

Hey woodburning friends, let's talk! I got another cord of mixed almond and black walnut delivered this morning, and I just got in from stacking it. Last time I got wood, it was a cord or two of hard and a cord of soft, and I segregated the hard from the soft but other than that I just stacked things as I picked them up. It worked out ok - over the course of a day, I'd bring in a couple loads of wood and end up with some small limbs and some medium splits and one or two absolutely huge monster logs. Sometimes I use a medium log and some little pieces to cram the stove full at night, or sometimes I use a monster log - just depends on what I have in the house and how big my bed of ash and coals is.

This time, I tried something different. All the thin splits and limbs are in one stack of their own - I can grab small pieces from one area of the pile and big pieces from another. I hope this doesn't turn out to be a huge PITA when the pile is tarped and bungee'd town and covered in snow. We'll see.

Anyway, it's 35 degrees and everything's slowly melting. Of course I scraped all the snow off the pallets before I stacked the new wood, but the wood got dumped in the snow and it's damp. I figure I will leave it untarped as long as I can - til the next possible storm comes in at the end of the week. And if I pull snowy wood, I leave it by the fire to dry out before I burn it, that seems to work well. Any other words of wisdom?

Part of me really likes the idea of being self-sufficient. It's awesome having my own egg supply, and one day I'll breed the lil goats and have fantastically good milk, and I'm looking forward to trying a garden this summer. But part of me really loves capitalism. I could get a (very inexpensive) BLM permit, a chainsaw, and a flatbed trailer and go cut my own wood, then saw it, split it, and season it... or I could just give some cash to a nice professional. I still get the "fun" of stacking it and splitting kindling :)

Speaking of "fun" - there is nothing more deeply satisfying than stacking wood or hay. If you don't have livestock or a woodstove (and I think those two categories cover 95% of my readers), you probably think it sounds awful - but it's really deeply satisfying to make a giant stack of consumables. I suppose more normal people hoard toilet paper or something, but I sure like having a woodpile.

The wood didn't take all day so I suppose I'll go work on the bathroom some more.


  1. We have a 11kw wood stove, in a stand alone situation in our living room. Its on daily during the winter. I cut and haul and stack all my own wood. Its kills me, it hurts my back and I always thoroughly enjoy myself!!
    Two chainsaws, a 20 inch and a36 inch Stihl ms650 Hell of a saw!

    probably use around 20tons of cut wood through the winter? Easy. Dont buy it, wont buy it, and after all is said and done, there is the satisfaction of a job well done.

  2. When I was growing up in Ontario we heated solely with wood. It took upwards of 20 cords (4x4x8') per winter to keep our old farm house warm. Whenever we weren't doing anything else we were pretty well cutting, splitting, hauling or stacking that d*** wood. Or hauling ashes from the furnace, cookstove or parlour stoves. It was pretty well a full time job just to keep the fires going !

    I'll admit there are times I miss the comfort of a wood fire, and here in Middle Tennessee it wouldn't take much wood to heat the house all winter long. I miss the idea of "free" heat, but not all the time spent in the woods with chainsaws and tractors getting the wood up !

  3. Every time I read either this blog or your house one, it makes me feel like a useless house wife. (and I'm not even a wife!) You have so many layers of awesome. I can change the oil in my car, but since it has a sensor I can't turn off in the dash, I don't even do that. I take it to the dealership. :(

    /I don't know if my right email is anywhere, so here it tis!


    (Screw you, email bots.)

  4. Ok, fine, here's the truth: I dont know how to use a chainsaw, much less safely fell trees, and they scare me. I have an overactive, dramatic, and gruesome imagination. It was definitely aided by a class I took called Product Liabilities - I know more than I want to about chainsaw de-footings, tractor rollovers, snowblower de-handings, etc. (of course I remember very little of the legal theories that led to success or failure for the maimed plaintiffs.)
    If I find a mentor to teach me to fell trees, I might consider chopping one down. And if I had a mentor, proper gear, and a trailer, I might consider fetching my own wood. Til then, capitalism works for me.

    (I feel like a failure in my quest to be a Renaissance Woman, but at least I have all my extremities!)

    DiJ - thanks!

  5. LOL ! I think you do pretty well for yourself, all things be told !

  6. I like capitalism too, when it works. Sometimes, though, I find hiring people or purchasing products to be more stressful than just doing it myself. And the exercise does me good, although it gets old after a few cords.

    But my firewood is in my back yard, and consists of trees I have to remove anyway. I'm sure you can find lots of other challenges closer to home, without risking life and limb.


  7. I forgot to say - DiJ, the F-150 also has some kind of stupid sensor, and I am going to be taking it in to get the oil changed. At least til the warranty runs out, then all bets are off! No shame in getting your overly-electronic car fixed by pros. ;)

    Jason - LOL, thanks!

    Ron - I would feel differently if I had trees anywhere near me, much less on my property. But driving 20-100 miles to get the opportunity to drop a tree on my head or chop my hand off is just the last straw, you know? I am very lucky to have found a very good wood guy who really deeply cares about his product and has competitive prices. And there are plenty of other things around here that I'd rather learn to do myself than pay some yahoo to do...

  8. I totally agree with you re: stacking hay and wood. Wood is actually easier for me--it doesn't make me sneeze!

    Theoretically, I'm on the side of fetching my own wood from the wilderness with a permit and a chainsaw (I have a slightly undersized saw that I can heft AND start unaided, the full-size saw is too big for me).

    In real life, we've found a wonderful family business just up the road. The younger men fetch wood home from the forest. The older men split rounds into quarters. The kids stack. The women feed everyone (including Jim, when he bought a cord of wood from them). Also, they underprice the competition by $20/cord. How can I say "no" to this?

    ANSWER: I can't, and I don't want to; people like this should be supported !

  9. Yep, that's going pretty far out of your way for the opportunity to fell a tree on yourself. :)

    Nah, just buy the stuff. I'm grateful every time I can buy a solution to a problem. I still find more problems to solve than I know what to do with. :)


  10. I don't know that I can answer your questions, but I urge to be really really really careful about having black walnut wood on your property and a horse - they don't mix.

    Black walnut, even a small amount of shavings in the bedding, can cause laminitis. It is extremely toxic to horses.

  11. YEA! Just love you!
    F(W)underWoman- girlwhodoesit all!

    I too would be like that...if I had what you have- and someday I may...then we can REALLY talk. I think you are great at research and it sounds to be a well working machine, around there!

    Last year was pretty cool wheni got my hay by myself...but now that I'm in a stable that does it for me..I won't miss the back ache!

    I've always wanted to use a chainsaw...for my trail clearing times..I need a little one, I can pack on the mare!

    Love it Fund...ride on and stack it too!

  12. Ha! I love my hay and woodpiles, after they're located, transported and put away that is lol. It is a great feeling!

  13. I used to help my grandfather stack wood in the winter. He even let me use a little hatchet to chop kindling. Seeing as how 8 years olds aren't good with hatchets, it is probably a miracle I have all my fingers and toes!

    My grandfather chopped of one of his toes with an axe once and had to walk to town to have it sewn back on!

    I have one problem with wood - and that is moving it around in the summer because of all of the creatures that move in - especially spiders. I'm not a bug lover, which is kind of sad since I grew up on a farm!

    Hope you enjoy your wood and the nice heat that it gives (better than a dry old furnace!)

  14. I stacked a lot of wood for heating in the past - Since for me cutting my own wood would involve buying and maintaining a chainsaw, learning how to use it properly, learning how to select the trees to fell, and then doing the felling - I'm more than happy to support a local church group that fund raises by selling split firewood, or a small family business.
    Yes you are buying a product rather than doing it yourself, but it sounds like you are supporting a 'tradesman' in the true sense of the word, his rade is wood, he knows his product well and does a good job in the supply of said product. There is a lot to be said for supporting other small businesses when they do an execllent job.

    I hope that all made sense to you, and didn't just make sense inside my head.

  15. After 5 years of cutting, splitting (during one splitting session, I did get my fingers smashed in the splitter, yet another vote against doing it yourself!!), hauling & stacking our own wood, I have finally convinced my husband to throw in the towel & get a pellet stove.

    That will be taking place sometime this summer, or early fall. Yay!

    Wood stoves are nice because of the heat they crank out, but the smoke & soot gets all over the place, to say nothing of the dirt, moss, bark & giant wolf spiders that come in on the logs.

    I will not be sorry to see ours go! :)



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